Qatar Foreign Nationals and the Death Penalty Death Penalty Overview Qatar’s judiciary operates under a dual legal system comprising Islamic courts and civil or adliyya courts. Unlike civil courts in other Gulf states, Qatar's adliyya courts are considered autonomous, self-regulating legal entities. Under the constitution, the emir has the power to pardon or commute sentences. Under Sharia law, which is a key part of Qatar's legal system, crimes fall into three categories: qesas, hudud and ta'azir. Qesas, the rst category, includes serious crimes such as murder and causing bodily harm. It provides avenues for restitution and forgiveness under Sharia law, such as the 'blood money' provision, whereby the accused may choose to pay nancial compensation to the victim's family as an alternative to retribution by execution. Crimes punishable by death include murder, terrorist activities, rape, incest, treason and espionage. The country's Penal Code also provides for the death penalty for certain Hudud offences under Sharia law, which cover a range of crimes from theft and alcohol consumption to apostasy. The penal system also allows the death penalty to be imposed for repeated drug traf cking. fi fi fi fi fi fi Qatar's criminal justice system comprises three levels of courts. The Primary Court initially hears all cases and passes judgement. Minor offences and misdemeanours are heard by the Lower Criminal Court, which is presided over by a single judge. The Higher Criminal Court, consisting of a panel of three judges, hears serious crimes and appeals against sentences handed down by the lower court. In certain cases, an appeal may be made to the Supreme Court within 60 days of the of cial noti cation of the decision of the Court of Appeal. Death sentences require a unanimous decision by all three judges of the High Criminal Court and cannot be carried out without the Emir's authorisation. The Court of Appeal has the power to commute a death sentence to life imprisonment or to a term of not less than ve years. In cases of murder, the death penalty can be commuted to imprisonment if the victim's next of kin pardon the offender or accepts ‘blood money’. Qatar's justice system has been consistently criticised by the UN and Amnesty International for inadequate access to legal counsel in a language the defendant understands, restrictions on the ability of defendants to address the courts, trials in absentia, and allegations of forced confessions obtained through torture, particularly of non-Qatari nationals. 1

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